The Maryland General Assembly is Back in Session!

 The Maryland General Assembly got off to a busy start on Wednesday, reelecting Mike Busch as Speaker and preparing for a heavy workload brought on by a Trump administration that has proven disastrous to Maryland in myriad ways. The House has already overridden two of the Governor’s vetoes, more on that below, but that’s just the beginning because there is a TON of work to do this session. We have to protect Marylanders from the devastating Trump tax overhaul, find health insurance for thousands of Maryland children because of ineptitude in Congress, protect our air and water from the Trump administration’s deregulation of environmental protections, and find funding for school construction and transportation projects in Montgomery County while Governor Hogan continues to siphon our money and send it to rural Maryland, just to name a few. And to add, his friend President Trump is busy sending our money to welfare states like Mississippi, so we have our work cut out for us! Stay tuned for weekly updates as the 90 day session progresses.

The week started off with a fundraiser at my sister’s home in Montgomery Village. It was great to see Ben Jealous there – someone who will make an excellent Governor of – as well as the President of the African Women’s Council, Mary-Rose Sirikari, and one of my favorite members of the Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee, Mumin Barre. Fundraising is my least favorite part of being a Delegate, but it’s a necessary part of being in a position to enact good policy that will help Maryland.

On Tuesday morning I was interviewed by Doug Tallman from Montgomery County Media. A few excerpts from the interview are posted below.

On securing state funding:

On terminating parental rights for rapists:

On Maryland’s response to Trump’s tax reform:

On the Federal Government’s failure to fund the Children’s Health Insurance Plan (CHIP):

Later on Tuesday I spoke at a press conference in support of a bill I am sponsoring that would bring 100% clean, renewable electricity to Maryland by 2035. Powering our state with 100% clean, renewable energy is not a scientific or engineering problem — we know how to do it — it’s a political problem, and one that we intend to solve. Climate change is the single biggest threat to humanity and the planet, and I view it as a moral duty to take strong and immediate action. Maryland is a small state, but it is positioned to create model policy that other states and countries can adopt. That is how Maryland can have a positive impact on the entire planet.

Tuesday ended with my response to a question by Luke Broadwater from the Baltimore Sun. Luke wanted to know if any elected officials in Maryland thought that Senator Nathaniel Oaks, who is under federal indictment, should resign.

Mike Busch sworn-in as Speaker

Session started on Wednesday with us swearing in Michael Erin Busch as Speaker of the House. Busch is the longest serving Speaker in Maryland history, and has presided over landmark legislation such as marriage equality, the death penalty repeal, and the DREAM Act.

Thursday was a landmark day because the House was able to override two of Governor Hogan’s vetoes. The first was Earned Sick Leave which will provide sick leave for over 700,000 Marylanders that currently don’t have it. The ability to stay home when your sick is so important, and I’m glad that we were able to strike down the Governor’s reckless veto. I was proud to vote FOR Earned Sick Leave, and AGAINST Hogan’s veto.

I also voted for the Governor’s veto to ban the box on college applications.


Finally, I sponsored and cosponsored several bills this week and I’ll write about them during next week’s update. For now, have a great weekend!

Sincerely,

Shane

How did the Maryland fracking ban happen? Hear it from Robinson, Fraser-Hidalgo, Manno and Zirkin




Chicago posts EPA’s Deleted Climate Change Pages to City Website

Mayor Rahm Emanuel posted the Environmental Protection Agency’s deleted climate change pages to the City of Chicago’s website. Climate change is real and the Trump administration cannot hide from reality by deleting scientific evidence. Kudos to Chicago for keeping this information accessible to the public. You can view the site here.

Climate change is the single biggest threat to humanity and earth’s ecological system. If we’re going to mitigate this crisis we need to do a lot more from a policy perspective. Maryland banned fracking during the 2017 legislative session and consequently states such as Oregon are looking at stopping fracking as well, but that’s not enough. We need to get to 100% renewable energy as quickly as possible, and Maryland can be a leader in this effort. During the 2018 legislative session I plan to introduce legislation that would help Maryland arrive at 100% renewable energy by 2035. Each day wind and solar energy become cheaper and more accessible. 100% renewable energy by 2035 is an attainable goal and mitigating climate change demands it.

What we accomplished this session

Dear Friend,

I write from Annapolis following the close of my third legislative session and proud of the work the state legislature accomplished this year. We passed a balanced budget that includes record funding for public schools; invested in renewable energy by passing off-shore wind legislation; improved public safety with stricter gun control measures; expanded early voting; and continued to work on cleaning up one of Maryland’s greatest assets and treasures—the Chesapeake Bay. Indeed, it has been a productive session.

Our primary duty every session is to pass a budget. This year’s plan devoted 83 cents of every general fund dollar to education, health, and public safety, continued funding for programs credited with allowing Maryland to recoup 80% of the jobs lost during the recession, increased local police aid to a 20-year high, formed two new State Trooper classes, and placed more funds in the rainy day reserve to better position our state for federal cuts brought on by sequestration.

One of the most important pieces of legislation we passed repealed the death penalty. I am proud to live in a state that will no longer sanction execution. And I am proud of the tireless work of the organizers who made this victory possible. No longer will we have to worry that an innocent man or woman may be put to death by the state. And no longer will we have to waste money on a practice that has been outlawed by 128 countries.

Another vital bill that passed addressed our aging transportation infrastructure, providing $700 million annually for road and transit projects. Anyone who drives in the area understands the necessity of improving the congestion on our roadways. I am relieved that we finally began the process of investing more in road repair and maintenance.

My bills dealing with hydraulic fracturing—or “fracking”—both stalled in the legislature; however my concerns regarding this process of natural gas extension remain, and my work on this issue will continue. Our wastewater treatment facilities lack the capacity to handle fracking wastewater. Ignoring this problem, and sending the wastewater there regardless, is asking for trouble. What is more, spills have become increasingly common as drilling operations increase nationwide. We have a duty to protect our citizens and waterways from harmful chemicals and I will continue to work to ensure that we fulfill this obligation.

Ultimately, I remain unconvinced that fracking can be conducted safely: Water contamination and seismic activity continue to be frequent side effects of drilling operations. Making matters worse, methane leaks during the fracking process make it at least as big of a climate change contributor as coal. We should be focusing more on incentivizing the development of cleaner technologies rather than pivoting to an increased reliance on another fossil fuel. I will continue to push for our state to dedicate its resources towards researching renewable energy sources.

As a member of the Environmental Matters Committee, I have worked to implement and propose practices that ensure that our natural resources are preserved for the next generation. And so I was proud that the two bills I passed this session will do exactly that: One permanently extends funding for the Chesapeake Conservation Corps—an extremely successful program that furthers Chesapeake Bay conservation efforts; the other creates a workgroup that will research and recommend proposals designed to preserve native plant species and reverse their troubling decline.

Many of you contacted me this session about implementing a statewide spay and neuter program. After working with the task force that developed the bill, it was rewarding to see it pass this session. Over 45,000 animals are euthanized annually in Maryland due to overcrowded shelters. Hopefully, this program will be part of a comprehensive solution to this entirely preventable tragedy.

I was also a proud supporter of a measure to allow qualifying undocumented immigrants to obtain a driver’s license. Our nation was founded by immigrants who came here in search of opportunity. Currently, there are millions of undocumented individuals providing services upon which society relies. Indeed, we are stronger because of our diversity, not in spite of it. And so I will welcome with open arms any new Marylanders who may come as a result of this progressive change. And I will know that we will continue to thrive—both economically and socially—if we legislate in a manner that acknowledges reality rather than ignores it.

I was also proud to vote for a bill that empowers doctors and patients to decide what medicines work best for treating debilitating diseases like cancer and multiple sclerosis. It is simply nonsensical that narcotics—infinitely more easily abused than marijuana—are prescribed daily, while cancer patients are denied a therapeutic respite because elements of our public policy remain based on culture mores from five decades ago. Science has discovered multiple medicinal uses for marijuana, and many researchers feel that removing superfluous impediments to conducting further research will result in countless more. Our passage of a bill legalizing medical marijuana is an important step forward in that regard.

It was a pleasure serving you this year and I look forward to the work that remains next session. As always, please feel free to reach out in the interim and I look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely,
Shane

By Authority: Friends of Shane Robinson; Mary Robinson, Treasurer.